Are hamsters color blind? Yes! Hamsters are color blind. Their retinas contain only 3% of cone cells while 97% of rod cells. Although it doesn’t mean they see the world in black and white. They do see some shades of blue, grey, or green, depending on certain factors.
Let’s dig deep into it.
What Is Colour Blindness?
According to the National Eye Institute, a person/animal has color blindness when they can’t see colors or see them differently from how it is. Those suffering from color blindness are unable to differentiate between colors.
What Causes Color Blindness?
The following could be the reasons behind color blindness;
- Lack of cone cells
- Cone cells get damaged
- Cone cells are unable to detect color
Cone and rods are cells present in the eyes. Cone catches the colors and reacts to them while the detection of dark and light is done by the rod cells. Cone cells are of three types: green, blue, and red.
The cone cells detect the color and send the signal to the brain, which helps the brain to determine the color. Mild color blindness can occur when one of three cone cells stops working; while when red, green, and blue cone cells are damaged altogether, severe color blindness is the result.
Why Are The Hamsters Colour Blind?
Hamsters have approximately 97% of rod cells and 3% of cone cells, making it difficult for them to see most of the colors.
Hamsters see their surroundings in monochromatic color, and guess what? This eyesight condition is ideal for them. Why? Keep reading, and you’ll know it.
Do The Hamsters Only See In Black And White?
Hamsters are color blind because their eyes do not contain enough receptors( cone cells are known as receptors because they receive light). But they still have 3% of cone cells, which allows them to see some colors.
Siberian hamsters can see shades of blue in the ultraviolet part, while Syrian hamsters can detect green color (electromagnetic spectrum range). But the question that arises is, do they even need to see colors? Is it necessary for them? Read below.
Do hamsters even need to see colors?
Owls, bats, foxes, guinea pigs, and of course, hamsters are nocturnal animals. Nocturnal animals are those animals who sleep during day time and are active at night.
Just like hamsters, most of the nocturnal animals are color blind. Hamsters like to go out at night, and the reason is pretty obvious. They don’t want to get caught and munched by their predators.
At night, there is the slightest possibility that hamsters would need to see colors. Instead, strong hiding skills and finding food would be much more necessary for them. And for that, they naturally have those skills that are most needed. They have a strong sense of hearing and smell, which helps them find food and get back to their homes.
Nature indeed does everything accordingly, and maybe that’s precisely why the eyes of hamsters are made this way—perfectly customized for their lifestyle.
At night, there are fewer or no predators, so they can easily go hunting for food.
However, their hearing, smelling, and whisking sense still contribute to their eyesight well enough to see in the dark and be safe.
Unlike humans, they are not attracted to food by its mesmerizing and bright colors. Instead, they focus on the principle of finding and storing the food in their nest for spending their next day well and stomach full.
So now that you know that hamsters are not color blind, I am sure you would love to learn about their eyesights because aren’t these related? Of course, they are.
Do The Hamsters Have Good Eyesight?
The spatial vision of a hamster is very limited, and it is because their eyes are far apart from each other. Due to this, they find it difficult to see distant objects.
Hamsters have short-sightedness which means they can only see objects nearer to them and are sharper. If equated to humans, they have an eyesight of 20/400. So now you can figure out the struggle they go through.
However, their all-around vision is excellent. Thus, they can locate a broad area around by their round eyes. This feature helps them in getting away from the predators even if they are attacking from the side.
How Do The Hamster’s Eyes Function?
The eyes of the hamsters function just like every other mammal’s eyes do. Even the structure is quite similar.
Did you know that a hamster’s eyes are 2.5 times larger than the eyes of a mouse? These tiny adorable animals have dark and big eyes, allowing maximum light to pass in them.
This is how hamster’s eyes function and help them to see:
- Just like eyes normally do, first, the light passes through the cornea( transparent outer surface of the eye) of the hamster.
- The light then enters the pupil. The pupil is responsible for controlling the amount of light that passes through the eyes. It can change its size according to the light.
- Then, the lights enter through the lens. The lens is responsible for focusing on the light.
- Finally, the lights enter the retina, which is the receptor of light and is present at the back of the eye.
- These receptor cells convert the light into an electrical signal and send it to the brain through the optic nerve. And at last, the brain converts it into an image.
Why Do Hamsters Have Weak Eyesight?
As already discussed above, hamsters are nocturnal animals. It means they stay under their dens in the dark. They go out to hunt food only when it is dawn or dusk.
They are more likely to hunt the food and return home safely during the dawn and the dusk. But, the daytime is dangerous for them as all the predators are awake and finding food for themselves.
It is the reason why hamsters prefer to stay underground in their burrows during the daytime.
Hence they spend most of their lives, or you may say, time under the ground in the dark. Their eyes get used to the low lights and stop working correctly in the bright light resulting in weak eyesight.
Now you might be wondering that your hamster is a pet and not a wild hamster, so why does he have weak eyesight? Well, that is because he inherited it from his ancestors.
How Far Can The Hamsters See?
A hamster is born blind for about two weeks after its birth. As they grow up, they start developing eyesight but not very well. They can only see things that are near to them or a few inches far from their eye or face.
Hamsters are bad at judging heights and can fall off the ledge without realizing the outcome. High platforms are not recommended for the same reason.
There is a thing or two that you can do to avoid him falling:
- Like, if you are playing with it or just casually holding it, make sure to keep the distance in mind.
- Do not place the platform at height as he won’t be able to judge the height and end up with an injury.
- If you do not have any choice but to place the platform high in the hamster’s cage, then you can use a hammock.
Usually, hammocks are used by rat owners, but they won’t hurt if you use them. You can easily find them in any pet store and use them to protect your hamster from falling on the floor.
Here are some of the most asked questions about the little furry creature’s eyesight:
No, hamsters cannot see the red color. The cones cells of the hamsters are not developed enough to access red color.
Yes, some studies have shown that blue light can cause depression in hamsters.
Hamsters react differently to different lights, but it is observed that they enjoy darker surroundings more than bright environments.
Hamsters have a strange relationship with colors. While some animals can see all the colors and others can’t see colors at all, hamsters can see some colors while their eyes cannot detect others.
These little animals see the world monochromatically, which means they see only one color. That color can either be blue or green, depending on if they are Siberian or Syrian.